Osho on Renunciation

Question – Osho, What is Renunciation? What is its place in your religion?

Osho THE idea of renunciation is one of the fundamentals of all pseudo-religions. Its phenomenology has to be understood very deeply. All the religions have been preaching a division between this world and that world which is beyond death — between the soul and the body. The body belongs to this world, the soul belongs to that world; hence if you want to achieve the world beyond death, which is eternal….¬†and the happiness there is unending, the happiness here is not worth calling happiness; it is momentary, it is dream stuff. It comes, and even before you have been able to grasp it, it is gone. It is illusory, it is a kind of mirage in the desert.

When you are far away you see a lake of water. You are thirsty and great hope arises in you. And the lake is absolutely real as far as you can see, because the only proof of its reality, that water is there, is that the trees are being reflected in the water. If there is a mountain by the side, the mountain is reflected in the lake, the sun is reflected in the lake. What more. proof do you need?

Without water these reflections cannot happen. You rush with great hope, but as you come nearer, you find the lake is receding; the distance between you and the lake remains the same. It was just an illusion created by sunrays reflected back from the hot desert sand. When sunrays are reflected back, they move like waves, and their movement from far away creates the illusion of water. And in their wave-like movement they attain the quality of reflecting things; they become just like a mirror. That is one half of the mirage.

The other half is in your thirst. If you were not thirsty, perhaps you would have been able to detect, to find out that it was a mirage. You have seen mirages before; you know that mirages can appear almost as if they are real — but your thirst is there. The physical phenomenon of the returning rays of the sun gives half the reality to the mirage. The other, and the far more important half, is contributed by you and your thirst.

You want to believe that it is true. Even if somebody was there trying to prove that it was not real, you would feel angry with this man: you are thirsty and the water is there and he is trying to prove that the water is illusory. He does not know what thirst means! — perhaps he is not thirsty. There is no way to convince a thirsty man that what he is seeing is not the real thing. All that you see is not necessarily real. Appearance does not mean reality.

The religions have been saying for millions of years to people, that the happiness in this world is of the same nature as a mirage in the desert. That’s why you are never capable of catching hold of it. You never get hold of happiness in your fist; it comes and goes. You can feel it like a breeze, but by the time you become aware that it is here, it is already gone.

Perhaps it is more unreal than the mirage. A mirage at least has some reality — the reflected sunrays contribute half, and your thirst, the other half But in your so-called happiness of this world, you are contributing one hundred percent. There is nothing else there which contributes anything.

And you know it. Today one woman is so beautiful to you that you can say Cleopatra was nothing before her. She seems to be the most beautiful woman in the world. Not only today — you cannot conceive that there could have been any woman more beautiful ever, or could be in the future.

You are projecting, because the same woman to others is nothing; and the same woman tomorrow will be nothing to you too. And then you will be surprised, shocked — what happened? What happened to the woman? Nothing has happened to the woman — she is the same person — something has happened to you.

Yesterday you were thirsty — there was lust being projected. Today the lust is fulfilled; now there is no biological projection. The woman is an ordinary woman and the happiness that you got was just out of your projection — you created the whole game. The woman at the most played the part of an inactive participant; she allowed you to project yourself upon her.

Perhaps she was also projecting her mind upon you so it was a projection from both sides. Sooner or later it is going to disappear because projections cannot last, once their basic cause is missing. The basic cause is in your biology; and biology doesn’t bother about love and poetry and romance, or anything — biology means business!

Biology is not interested in foreplay and afterplay; they are a sheer wastage. Biology is interested in reproduction. Once biology has done its work, it withdraws; the projection disappears. Then you are standing there, the same woman is standing there — but nothing is anymore the same. Where has the happiness disappeared?

You were feeling just as if you were on the top of Everest, and you have fallen to the depths of the Pacific. The woman deceived you and the woman thinks you deceived her; and you both try to dump on each other. Nobody has deceived, both have been deceived by biology. But biology is not somebody outside you, it is intrinsic to your body.

You are a projection of two other biologies, those of your father, your mother; and they were a projection of two other biologies — it is a continuum, a river-like flow. The religions tried to exploit this fundamental truth. It is true that romance and poetry… and the so-called love affair is just a shadow of biology. So it is not very difficult: a certain injection with certain hormones can create all the poetry right now, all the romance….

Another injection — and you fall into the Pacific! Now we know a man can become a woman, a woman can become a man; just a little change of hormones, just a little change of chemistry. Religions exploited this simple truth. It is true, but rather than explaining it to you, they exploited it.

They said, “This is the momentary happiness. Don’t run after it; you are wasting your time. The real world is beyond death.” Why beyond death? Because death will destroy all your biology, physiology, chemistry; everything that is material, death will take away. Only the spiritual will be left behind and the spiritual knows the eternal. The material, the physical knows only the momentary.

It appeared very logical; the first part is true, but the second part is fictitious. Yes, it is true that moments of happiness in this life are very fleeting, but that does not mean that there is another life beyond death where these moments become eternal. There is no evidence for it. At least these moments are there, are experienced by everyone. Howsoever small and fleeting, they exist. Nobody can deny their existence.

You can say they are made of the same stuff as dreams are made of — but still they are there. Even dreams have a reality of their own. They are there, they affect you; and when something affects you it becomes real.

For example, you are hungry. The whole day you have not been able to eat anything; you are tired, you fall asleep. Now, the body is hungry and wants food. The mind creates a beautiful dream that you are a guest in a great feast. The mind is serving you because if the mind is not going to create the dream, your sleep will be disturbed — the hunger is there.

Somehow you have to be convinced that you are eating, that you are not hungry. Your sleep remains undisturbed. The dream is doing something real. How can something unreal do something real? It is not possible — but a dream has its own existence. Yes, it is different from a rock, but so is a rose flower different from a rock. The dream is even more different; but it affects you, it affects your life, it affects your lifestyle — and those changes are real.

So, one thing to be remembered: in this life there are momentary pleasures, fleeting experiences of happiness, sudden explosions of joy — but you cannot catch hold of them. You cannot keep them in your safe deposit. You cannot make them permanent. Just because you cannot make them permanent, religions exploited you. It was a very cunning strategy.

You want to make them permanent; your deepest desire is to remain happy for ever, not to know pain, sadness, anguish — ever. Just always to be in paradise — that is your desire. The religions exploited this. They said, “There is such a place, but you cannot get anything without paying for it.” It looks perfectly mathematical, economical.

The religions started teaching that you sacrifice this life if you want to attain the permanent world of paradise that is beyond death. And it is very cheap, because what you are sacrificing are just momentary fleeting experiences that happen once in a while.

If you collect all your moments of happiness in your seventy years of life, perhaps you may not get even seven moments which you can be absolutely certain were of the nature of ecstasy. In seventy years of life, not even seven moments? Then what have you been doing here? — torturing yourself and others?

Yes, you cannot find even seven moments, because the nature of those moments is such that when they are there, they take you over totally, they possess you — yes, that is the right word — they possess you completely. But when they are gone, they dispossess you as completely as they had possessed you, so only a memory is left. And how long can you live on the memory which proved so deceptive?

After a few days you start doubting whether it happened or were you just imagining? Because in your whole life’s experience that moment is so contradictory: years pass, then one moment perhaps…. And that too is not in your hands; when and where it is going to happen, you cannot decide. So there are years of dragging, and a certain moment which has remained just a memory…. Slowly, slowly, even the smoke of memory starts disappearing.

So even if you ask a man of seventy years old, he cannot say that there are even seven moments. And as you become older, there is less and less possibility of those moments. There is more and more disillusionment, more and more disappointment. In the future there is only death and darkness, and in the past nothing but deception.

The religions had a beautiful space through which to exploit you — and they did well all over the world. For thousands of years they have found the greatest business — greater than anybody else’s: they have been selling you paradise, and almost for nothing. All they ask is: “Renounce this momentary life and the eternal world of ecstasy is yours.”

Hence renunciation became a foundational belief: the more you renounce, the more you become worthy; and the more you can be certain that you are coming closer. So people have tried to renounce everything.

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